The Influence of a Cognitive Dual Task on the Gait Parameters of Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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This review examines the effect of a dual task on the gait parameters of older adults with a mean gait speed of 1.0 m/s or greater, and the effect of type and complexity of task. A systematic review of Web of Science, PubMed, SCOPUS, Embase, and PsycINFO was performed in July 2016. Twenty-three studies (28 data sets) were reviewed and pooled for meta-analysis. The effect size on seven gait parameters was measured as the raw mean difference between single- and dual-task performance. Gait speed significantly reduced with the addition of a dual task, with increasing complexity showing greater decrements. Cadence, stride time, and measures of gait variability were all negatively affected under the dual-task condition. In older adults, the addition of a dual task significantly reduces gait speed and cadence, with possible implications for the assessment of older people, as the addition of a dual task may expose deficits not observed under single-task assessment.

Smith is with the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland; and the Department of Physiotherapy, Health Service Executive, Dundalk, Ireland. Cusack, Cunningham, and Blake are with the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.

Address author correspondence to Erin Smith at erin.smith@hse.ie; erin.walsh@ucdconnect.ie.
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